Monday, February 25, 2013

2013 Mercedes-Benz Marathon

February 17, 2013 7:03 AM
Birmingham, Alabama

Time Pace Division Division
Bib #
Owen 3:40:43 8:25 M35-39 23/91 170/637 212/995 30

Written by Owen:

This weekend was just what I needed in so many ways!  Our lives have been so busy lately (largely because of my racing calendar) that I needed a vacation.  I originally scheduled this weekend to be a family road trip because it is only a six hour drive from Charlotte.  A couple of months before it, however, we decided to let the kids spend some time with their grandparents, so Malissa and I could enjoy this weekend by ourselves.

The trip started off somewhat stressful.  There is a bunch of road construction going on between our house and Opa and Neina's (the kids' grandparents).  Friday after Michael got home from school, we immediately hopped in the car and headed to their house.  We were stuck in traffic, and worse, we could see the other direction was gridlock as well (which we'd have to travel again once we dropped off the kids.)

We had plans to stay at a hotel in Duluth, Georgia, which was a little more than halfway to Birmingham, Alabama from Charlotte.  I had already bought movie tickets for "Safe Haven", which  Malissa REALLY wanted to see, for 1030 PM Friday in Duluth.  While stuck in traffic coming back from dropping the kids off, we knew we weren't going to make that.  So we wrote off the $20 I had spent and decided to stop in Charlotte at Cheddar's for dinner. We had left our house almost three hours earlier, and were still five miles from our house (30 miles driving north, 35 miles driving south).  That made for a long start to the trip.

One more problem...the heater in our car had gone out a week or so before this trip.  So our toes were really, really cold.  The heater in the back worked good, but that did little to help our toes.  We contemplated taking turns sitting in the back seat, but that just seemed weird.

We made it into the hotel in Duluth about 11:00 PM Friday night.  I really wanted to get to Birmingham in time to see the Bell Center Kids run.  It is a very short "race" of kids with down syndrome. It started at 11:00 AM, which meant I'd have to get up and do my 2 mile run very early.  Because it was dark and I didn't know the area, I did my run on the treadmill in the hotel.  I finished and we were on the road by 6:45 AM.

Again, it was very cold in the car, so cold I was worried I was doing damage to my feet the day before a marathon.  But we still had a good trip and arrived in Birmingham in plenty of time to check in to our hotel and see the kids run. It was very crowded, but seeing the kids' reactions made the early morning wake up worth it.

One of the winners of the Bell Center Run
We have decided to really try and do some tourist type stuff at each race.   Looking back on all of my marathons I've done so far, we tried to not miss much work which meant not doing as much as I would have liked at each of them.  So I did some research on what there was to see and do in Birmingham.  I came up with the Civil Rights Institute and Vulcan Park.

After the kids' run on Saturday, we went to lunch at the Cheesecake Factory.  Our bodies were still on East Coast time, plus we had been up a long time.  So at 11:00 AM Central we were ready to eat.  We actually had to wait for the restaurant to open its doors for us.  We enjoyed a really good meal.

After lunch we went to Vulcan Park.  The weather was really, really cold and windy, but it offered some great views of Birmingham.  It is the world's largest cast iron statue and has a lot of history that we learned about while there.
Overlooking Birmingham

Malissa in front of the statue
It's hard to take a picture in front of something so tall.

After Vulcan Park we went to the Civil Rights Institute.  It is a museum filled with tons of history regarding the decades of struggles blacks have had in the area.  I really enjoyed learning, seeing all of the presentations, and can't imagine living in that time.  Sadly they don't allow photography.

Then we had a nice relaxing dinner at Amore.  It is a nice, small, Italian restaurant that was recommended by Trip Advisor.  We really enjoyed it.

After dinner we made up for missing the movie the night before and saw "Safe Haven". We both really enjoyed it.  I won't say any more because I hate spoilers.

We headed back to the hotel, which was across the street from the park where the start/finish line was.  We went to bed about 10:30 after a really long day filled with tons of fun things that Malissa and I did together.

Sunday morning I got up at 5:00 AM.  I always get up two hours before the start so I can eat one last carb-heavy meal before the race and give it time to digest.   It was time to get dressed for the marathon.  The day before we were so cold.  It was in the 30's but a very cold wind had us chilled all day.  I could not make up my mind on what to wear for the marathon.  I've never worn a long-sleeve shirt for a race before.  Pants were out of the question, I hate running in pants.  The forecast called for 25-35° with hardly any winds.  I decided to wear shorts and a short-sleeve running shirt.

Main goal of this sign was so I could spot Malissa in the crowd, but it was a big hit!

Before the race all bundled up.

My running attire for the first mile at least.
Malissa was going to be at several places along the route, including shortly after mile 1, so I ran that first leg with my sweatshirt on.  After about a half mile, I started looking around for someone with exposed arms so I could ask them how cold they were.  I honestly couldn't find a single person with short sleeves. I told myself "I guess that's your answer."  I decided I'd keep the sweatshirt for a while.  I wasn't going to see Malissa again until shortly before mile 13.  I hated the idea of having my sweatshirt tied around my waist that long, but it was cold.

Just before I saw her after mile 1, I called an audible and took off the sweatshirt and handed it to her.  I was already sweating bad under it and couldn't imagine wearing it any longer.  I kept the gloves and was just fine.

This marathon is a double loop course, which means you run a 13 mile loop, then repeat.  I wasn't too excited about that but it turned out to not be that bad.  Knowing what hills to expect was really nice.

Because of the disaster of my last marathon, I had decided to really take this one easy so I could finish happy.  I decided under 3:50 is still a good time and would help me enjoy the finish.  I was supposed to run each mile around 8:40, but couldn't quite slow down that much no matter how hard I tried.

I remember noting at about mile 12 that I had absolutely no problems.  Usually I have a joint or a spot in my shoe, or something that is bothering me.  I was feeling great, the 25-30° temps really helped.   I saw Malissa again at mile 12.5, and again at mile 14.5.  From there I knew I wouldn't see her again until the finish.  

At mile 13 I stopped at a port-o-potty.  When I came out I saw the 3:45 pace group go by.  I could tell they were a little ahead of schedule, but I decided to try and stick with them anyway.  The miles went by, and I stuck with them.  At mile 24 they kept talking about how ahead of schedule they were and were debating if they should slow down.  I figured why slow down at that point?

I don't know if they slowed down or not, because I turned on the jets a little bit and passed them.  I had gas left in the tank all the way to the finish.  Total opposite to my experience in Miami.  I finished almost 10 minutes ahead of schedule and loved every minute of it. I actually had negative splits by 1 second!  If it weren't for the adrenaline of miles 1 & 2, mile 26 would have been my fastest mile.  That is the definition of a successful marathon, even though it was 19 minutes slower than my PR.

1 comment:

  1. congrats! i loved that race last year. and glad yall had a weekend together :)